Anna Bauer ’23
On Sept. 30, the two teams went head to head for the first time and Miami came out battered and bruised. The game began with Dwight Howard winning the opening tip for the Lakers. For much of the first quarter, Miami was in the lead and had scored on six consecutive possessions, getting a 23-10 lead halfway through the period. Unfortunately for the Heat, however, the Lakers were able to catch up and with just under a minute left. LeBron James managed to steal and shoot the ball; he missed, but Anthony Davis caught the rebound, brought the ball back up to the net, and scored, tying the game 28-28. The Lakers were then able to get the ball back again, passing it to Alex Caruso who scored a three-pointer with just five seconds left on the clock.
Entering the second quarter, the Lakers were ahead 31-30. With just over seven minutes left in the first half, Miami managed to take lead again, 43-41. But just like before, the Lakers came back strong, scoring 24 points – Miami only scoring five – and giving the Lakers a 17-point lead at the end of the half, making the score 65 to 48.
Ultimately, the third and fourth quarter were not much better for the Heat than the first two. Miami kept up the fight, but at the very start of the third quarter, they were down. Goran Dragic, their point guard and second-leading scorer in the playoffs, suffered from a foot injury during the first half of the game. During the third quarter, Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s All-Star center, was pulled out of the game too, after aggravating a neck and left shoulder strain. Though the Heat put up 19 points, the Lakers put up 31, and by the end of the third, the Lakers still had the lead, 93-67.
With just under 10 minutes left on the clock, the Heat managed to cut a 32-point lead down to 20. However, the Lakers were still able to ease their way into their first win of the finals, beating Miami 116 to 98.
On Oct. 2, the Heat played the Lakers for a second time, and Miami still did not have Dragic and Adebayo on their starting line-up; their injuries requiring them to sit out of the game. Going in for these two players was Tyler Herro and Meyers Leonard. While the Heat still played as hard as they could, especially considering they were short-handed, Miami struggled to beat the Lakers as they would not give up their lead.
Starting late in the first quarter and ending late in the third, the Lakers scored 16 consecutive shots from the two-point range. James finished the game with 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists; meanwhile, Butler ended with 25 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. The Lakers won for a second time with a score of 124 to 114.
The two teams played their third game against each other on Oct. 4, but this time Miami took home the win. Although the Heat were still down Dragic and Adebayo, Jimmy Butler seemed to take this game into his own hands, not letting the Lakers have a third straight win.
Just as the first quarter clock was about to run out, Kyle Kuzma threw up a three-pointer for the Lakers, narrowing the Heat’s lead from six points to three. Nevertheless, the Heat were still maintaining a lead, 26 to 23, at the end of the first period.
Early in the second quarter, the Lakers managed to overtake the Heat. However, with 7:15 left on the clock, Butler charged to the basket, giving Miami the lead 38-37. The Heat kept this lead for the rest of the second quarter, but the Lakers were never too far behind.
During the third quarter, the Heat kept a strong lead, averaging roughly 10-points ahead, for most of the third quarter. With just three seconds left in the quarter, James scored a layup, shrinking the Heat’s lead to 85-80.
The fourth quarter mimicked the other three. This time around, the Lakers obtained a temporary two-point lead, although it only lasted until Butler was able to drive to the basket, scoring yet again and tying the game at 91-91. When the fourth quarter clock finally ran out, Miami was up 115 to 104, and had just won their first game of the series.
Butler was a vital player in this game. In just the first half, he had scored 19 points, assisted six times, rebounded six times, and stole the ball twice. By the end of the game, Butler had a triple-double with 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. Meanwhile, James finished the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists for the Lakers. Butler clearly had the one-up on LeBron James this time around, as he was the first player to ever outscore, out-rebound, and out-assist James in a playoff game.
What began as a rather rough start for Miami has now turned into a very entertaining NBA Finals series. Check out the Tripod next week for an update.